Friday 23 March 2018

Outstanding England deny Ireland in World final

England U20 45 Ireland U20 21

Max Deegan makes a break for Ireland
Max Deegan makes a break for Ireland

John Fallon

Ireland's hopes of glory in the World Rugby under 20 Championship were blown away by a fired-up English side who were on top throughout to claim their third title in the grade.

Nigel Carolan's men just could not get a foothold in the game and while they never gave up, few could dispute the six tries to three victory for England.

But while it was a bitterly disappointing outcome in their first final in the grade, they will take a lot of heart from a tournament where they produced some outstanding performances.

Ireland had only beaten England once in five meetings in the World Rugby under 20 Championship, but went into this one with a Six Nations win in Newcastle in February against the hosts.

Both sides produced devastating displays to reach the final, each winning all four games with Ireland running in 14 tries and England crossing for 18.

Ireland, having come from behind to win so many games, knew they needed to get in front this time, but that never looked like materialising as England blitzed them from the start and raced into a 21-0 lead.

It wasn't that Ireland played poorly, they just were not allowed get their hands on the ball and once England got that go-forward ball they made it count on the scoreboard.

Crucially, referee Paul Williams pinged Ireland in the first scrum even though England tighthead Billy Walker was the one who popped up under pressure from Andrew Porter.

Irish No.8 Max Deegan denied Johnny Williams a try after five minutes but the relief was short-lived for Nigel Carolan's men as England continued to pile forward with captain Harry Mallinder dictating the game and centre Joe Marchant also outstanding.

There was a brief let-off for Ireland when Mallinder missed a penalty from 45 metres after ten minutes. But the breakthrough for England came three minutes later when Marchant scored a fine try, which Mallinder converted. Ireland needed a quick response but the restart from Johnny McPhillips went out on the full and England continued to dominate.

They turned the screw up front, driving from a scrum to get their second try from No.8 Callum Chick after 27 minutes, with Mallinder converting from the touchline for 14-0.

Ireland really needed to get the next score to have any chance but it was England who extended their lead through lock Huw Taylor, although there was a hint of a forward pass in the build-up.

That put England 21-0 in front at the break and Mallinder killed any notion of a comeback inside two minutes of the restart when he raced through to score before adding the extras. Hooker Adam McBurney eventually got Ireland moving with a try off a lineout after 47 minutes and Johnny McPhillps converted.

But man of the match Mallinder, who finished with 25 points, got over for his second try and converted it to make it 35-7 in the third quarter.

Ireland never gave up and Shane Daly crossed after a superb break from deep by full-back Jacob Stockdale, with McPhillips converting to reduce the gap.

But then Ireland scrum-half Stephen Kerins was binned for blocking and while Ireland initially only conceded a score from the penalty, England got their sixth try before it was back to 15 against 15 when Marchant got over.

Ireland refused to die and Deegan got a good try in the closing statges with Brett Connon converting. But that was as close as they got as England ran out deserving winners to claim the title.

And while Carolan's men will be disappointed with their showing they will look back on a tournament where they beat grand slam champions Wales and then became the first Irish men's national side to defeat New Zealand.

Scorers: - England: Tries: H Mallinder (2), J Marchant (2), C Chick, H Taylor. Cons: Mallinder (6). Pens: Mallinder. Ireland: Tries: A McBurney, S Daly, M Deegan. Cons: J McPhillips (2), B Connon

England: M Malins; S Aspland-Robinson, J Marchant, J Williams, M Gallagher; H Mallinder, M Green; L Boyce, J Singleton, B Walker; S South, H Taylor; G Nott, W Evans, C Chick. Reps: H Randall for Green (32), W Stuart for B Walker (53), A Kitchener for South (61), J Willis for Nott (61), T West for Boyce (65), C Piper for Singleton (69), O Thorley for Gallagher (72), M Wright for Aspland-Robinson (72).

Ireland: J Stockdale; M Byrne, S Daly, C O'Brien, H Keenan; S Kerins; A Porter, A McBurney, B Betts; S O'Connor, J Ryan; G Jones, D Aspil, M Deegan. Reps: J O'Brien for C O'Brien (56), B Connon for McPhillips (57), V O'Brien for McBurney (61), K Brown for Brown (62), N Saunders for Kerins (70), E Mintern for O'Connor (70), A Coyle for Betts (75), J Bollard for Porter 79).

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)

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